US 7063557 B2
An electrical connector includes a connector body that contains an open-topped chamber in which is mounted a stationary, upwardly-directed insulation-severing electrical contact, together with an operating member for displacing an insulated conductor laterally downwardly in the chamber. The operating member includes a flexible intermediate portion that permits the leading end of the operating member to be introduced initially downwardly into the chamber, and subsequently to be diverted upwardly relative to the connector body by a guide surface arranged at the bottom of the chamber. As the leading and trailing ends of the operating member approach their final positions relative to the connector body, the insulation layer of the conductor is severed by knife edges on the stationary contact, and the conductor is brought into electrical engagement contact with the contact.
1. An electrical connector for connecting to an electrical contact an insulated conductor having a bare conductor, and a layer of insulation arranged concentrically about the bare conductor, comprising:
(a) a connector body (1) containing at least one open-topped chamber (3);
(b) a stationary electrical contact (10) mounted in said chamber, said contact including upwardly directed insulation severing means (8); and
(c) operating means (11) for introducing the insulated conductor laterally into said chamber in insulation piercing relation with said insulation severing means, thereby to effect electrical engagement between said conductor and said contact, said operating means including an operating member having leading (17) and trailing (12) end portions, and a flexible section (15) intermediate said leading and trailing end portions, said leading portion adapted for progressive downward insertion into said chamber on one side of said stationary contact, said trailing portion containing an opening (13) for receiving the insulated conductor, said chamber including curved guide means (16) operable to deflect said leading end portion for continued travel in an upward direction on the opposite side of said stationary contact toward a final position relative to said connector body in which said trailing end portion causes the insulation layer of the conductor to be pierced by said insulation severing means.
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This invention relates to an electrical connector including a connector body that contains an open-topped chamber in which is mounted a stationary upwardly directed insulation-severing electrical contact, together with operating means for displacing an insulated conductor laterally downwardly in the chamber, thereby to sever the insulation layer and produce electrical engagement between the bare conductor and the contact.
As shown by the European published patent applications Nos. EP 0 936 697 A1, EP 1 191 633 A2 and EP 1 191 634 A2, it is known in the prior art to provide electrical connectors with contact actuating pieces that are movable in a housing to effect electrical engagement and disengagement between an insulated conductor and a stationary contact. An actuation tool, such as a screwdriver, is applied in each case on mutually opposite sides of the contact actuation members in order to push the conductor into the IDC contact when connection is to be made, and to displace it out of engagement with that contact when disconnection takes place. The direction of movement of the screwdrivers during connection and disconnection thus is offset with respect to each other by 180°. This type of actuation has proved to be very effective, especially because of the strong connect and disconnect forces that can be produced on the conductor.
Nevertheless, in various practical applications, it is desirable to connect and disconnect also from other additional different directions (for instance, differing by 90°) or even out of that same direction due to special structural space conditions. According to the present invention, the contact actuation device has a flexible section that preferably is guided along a curved path, in particular, a housing that receives the connection device.
This measure facilitates the connection and disconnection from any desired direction and, in case of a deflection by 180°, even connection and disconnection from the same direction. This makes it possible to use insulation piercing contacts under particularly tight or special structural space conditions
Accordingly, a primary object of the present invention is to provide an improved electrical connector including an operating member for electrically connecting an insulated conductor with a stationary insulation-severing contact mounted in an open-topped chamber contained in the connector body.
According to a more specific object of the invention, the operating member includes a leading end section that is adapted for downward longitudinal insertion into the chamber, and a trailing end section that contains an opening for receiving a free end of the insulated conductor. The operating member includes a flexible section between the leading and trailing end sections, thereby to permit the leading end of the operating member to be diverted upwardly by guide means arranged adjacent the bottom of the chamber. As the leading end of the operating member approaches a final position relative to the connector body, the insulated conductor is laterally displaced downwardly by the trailing end of the operating member into insulation severing engagement with knife means on the stationary contact, thereby to effect electrical contact between the conductor and the stationary contact.
According to a further object of the invention, the free extremities of the leading and trailing ends of the operating member have planar surfaces that are adjacent and parallel when the leading end is in its final position, the end surfaces of the free extremities containing operating recesses for receiving the tip of an operating tool, such as a screwdriver. Thus, the advantage is presented that when a screwdriver tip is placed in the recess in the trailing end, the operating member may be laterally displaced with sufficient force to effect penetration of the insulation layer by the knife edges of the stationary contact. To disengage the conductor from the contact the screwdriver tip is inserted in the recess contained in the adjacent end extremity of the leading edge, whereupon the operating member is displaced in the opposite direction relative to the connector body. Thus, the screwdriver is displaced in the same axial direction to either connect or disconnect the conductor from the stationary contact.
The present invention is suitable for contacts of various types where a conductor is guided into the metal parts or contacts by means of an actuation device. In particular, it is suitable for insulation-penetrating contacts, such as IDC cutting contacts, but also for penetrating contacts. The connection devices can be used for plug connectors, terminal blocks and other electrical appliances. They are adapted to be inserted in this fashion into a housing made of insulation material, which housing displays the corresponding guide contour for the flexible section.
The flexible section can consist of the intermediate portion of a unitary band member that is in itself flexible. This band is preferably provided with a serrated side contour, thereby to afford the desired degree of flexibility. Use of a multilink chain is also conceivable. However, the one-piece version is favored because the latter facilitates deflection also in an extremely tight space and because one can nevertheless come up with a contact actuation device that can be produced in a particularly reasonably priced manner.
According to the present invention, the contact actuation device has a flexible section that preferably is guided along a curved path, in particular, a housing that receives the connection device. This measure facilitates the connection and disconnection from any desired directions and, in case of a deflection by 180°, even connection and disconnection from the same direction, something that makes it possible to use cutting contacts also under particularly tight or special structural space conditions.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from a study of the following specification when viewed in the light of the accompanying drawings, in which:
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It is apparent that the flexible section 15 can consist of an integral portion of a unitary body. The serrated surface 22 provides the appropriate degree of flexibility.
While in accordance with the provisions of the Patent Statutes the preferred forms and embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other modifications may be made deviating from the inventive concepts set forth above.